Living in rural Nevada affords us wide-open spaces, big vistas, and a relatively small population for all this space.
Having access to nature, in our yards, parks, and public lands is something we should not take for granted. In this unusual age of quarantine and closing of many public places, people in more populated areas are suffering from the lack of time outdoors.
An article in the New York Times published this week titled “‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ is a Real Thing” highlights the challenges others are facing with regard to getting outdoors. Research shows the negative effects when humans, especially children, do not get enough time outside. If you or your kiddos are suffering from moodiness, crankiness, short tempers, and anxiety it may be time to plan some time outside.
Here is a list of ideas from Richard Louv, co-founder of the Children & Nature Network and author of several books on the Nature-Deficit Disorder.
1. Create a “sit spot.” Build a fort, den or tree house that provides a safe space outdoors. Getting outside reduces our sense of isolation. Creating these things helps children learn planning, problem-solving and creativity. Your sit spot does not need to be fancy, just safe.
2. If you can’t go outside, watch from a window with awe. Look at the clouds if you can, watch for birds flitting by, be intentional about opening curtains and blinds and looking outside.
3. Hiking. In Northern Nevada hiking is an easy solution. Be intentionally thankful next time you hit the trail.
4. Deck camp. There is nothing wrong with simply camping in your backyard! Let kids create their own tepee from blankets, play flashlight tag, have a shadow puppet show on the wall.
5. Electronically watch. Utilize the web to watch live nature cams. It’s not exactly the same as being outdoors, but it does switch our focus from inside to outside and may start conversations that lifts spirits.
6. Read an outdoor adventure book. Inspirational titles include Island of the Blue Dolphins, Julie of the Wolves, Tom Sawyer, The Jungle Book, and The Curious Garden. For older kids, The Thunder Tree, What the Robin Knows, Desert Solitaire, and The Sense of Wonder.
Getting outside shifts our focus from an internal-focus to an external-focus and that is what our minds, hearts, and souls need for health. When we stay in our own heads for too long, things get dark, stale and gloomy. Short stints outside can be beneficial; as little as a 5-minute walk can change a mood. In rural Nevada we have no excuse not to get outside daily.
Given the current situation due to COVID-19, and all the unknowns associated with it, be sure to call ahead or look at the website of your desired location to learn about availability and regulations. Get outside as often as you can and recognize the gift we have living in rural Nevada.
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